Federal Guidance for Child Welfare IT Systems

This page offers statutes, regulations, and other federal issuances to assist states and tribes in planning, developing, and implementing child welfare information systems. These issuances come in different forms as defined below and are sequentially numbered according to an internal Children’s Bureau process. If you are interested in child welfare program policy, click on the Child Welfare Policy Manual in the Featured Resources or in the CCWIS Federal Guidance.

CCWIS Federal Guidance

Information Memoranda

  • Strengthening Technology Support for Recruitment, Approval, and Retention of Foster Homes - ACYF-CB-IM-20-03
    • Information on how to use information systems, websites, and applications to support the recruitment, approval, and retention of foster homes.
  • Optional Automated Functions Checklist Instructions - ACYF-CB-IM-16-07
    • An optional checklist to document automated functions for CCWIS projects in an Advance Planning Document (APD).
  • CCWIS Overview for Information Technology Staff - ACYF-CB-IM-16-06
    • A summary of CCWIS for Information Technology staff.
  • Notice of Intent Submission Instructions - ACYF-CB-IM-16-04
    • An optional checklist to document automated functions for CCWIS projects in a Notice of Intent.
  • Executive's Guide to CCWIS - ACYF-CB-IM-16-03
    • A high-level description of CCWIS.
  • CCWIS Final Rule Announcement - ACYF-CB-IM-16-02
    • Announces the publication of the CCWIS Final Rule.

Policy Manual

  • Child Welfare Policy Manual - This link navigates to questions and answers regarding Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) regulation in the Child Welfare Policy Manual.


Technical Bulletins

  • Identifying and Reporting CCWIS Automated Functions - CCWIS Technical Bulletin #1
    • Issuance Date: September 29, 2017
    • Information and examples of identifying and reporting CCWIS Automated Functions. This process is used in the determination of CCWIS cost allocation.
  • Data Sharing Between CCWIS and Child Welfare Contributing Agencies - CCWIS Technical Bulletin #2
    • Issuance Date: September 29, 2017, Revised January 27, 2020
    • Information on identifying and collaborating with child welfare contributing agencies (CWCAs), options for data sharing, and related cost allocation requirements.
  • Modular Design and Review Guidance - CCWIS Technical Bulletin #3
    • Issuance Date: July 3, 2018
    • Information on a modular design approach and guidance on the assessment of modular design during the CCWIS automated function review.
  • Advance Planning Document Guidance for Agile Projects - CCWIS Technical Bulletin #4
    • Issuance Date: August 9, 2018
    • APD guidance to state and tribal title IV-E agencies planning to develop a child welfare information system utilizing an agile project management approach.
  • CCWIS Cost Allocation - CCWIS Technical Bulletin #5
    • Issuance Date: November 28, 2018
    • Information regarding the process for allocating project costs and determining the associated federal financial participation (FFP) funding implications. This guidance is not applicable to a title IV-E agency that is developing or operating a non-CCWIS information system.
  • CCWIS Data Quality Plans - CCWIS Technical Bulletin #6
    • Issuance Date: November 30, 2018
    • Information about the requirements for CCWIS Data Quality Plans, including biennial reviews. This guidance includes an optional CCWIS Data Quality Review Instrument.


  • Data Sharing for Courts and Child Welfare Agencies Toolkit
    • Issuance Date: July 13, 2018
    • Technical assistance to courts and child welfare agencies to assist and support the creation of automated, bi-directional (two-way) data exchanges between their respective information systems.
  • Engaging Youth in Information Systems Design Toolkit
    • Issuance Date: June 28, 2019
    • Technical assistance to title IV-E agencies to engage and involve youth in foster care and young adults formerly in foster care (youth and young adults) in the design and development of child welfare information systems, websites, or applications.
  • Cloud Service Models Toolkit
    • Issuance Date: April 22, 2021
    • Technical assistance to title IV-E agencies regarding incorporating different cloud service models, such as Software-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service into child welfare information systems.

General Child Welfare Federal Guidance

Action Transmittals (AT)

  • Failure to Obtain Prior Approval - ACF-AT-OSSP-00-01
    • Issuance Date: March 13, 2000
    • Procedures for considering the approval of FFP when an agency fails to obtain prior approval per 45 CFR 95 subpart F.
  • Federal/State Information Technology Policy - ACF-AT-94-5
    • Issuance Date: July 22, 1994
    • HHS, Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), and FNS guidance on modifications to the APD process to increase flexibility.
  • State Responsibilities Regarding Information Technology (IT) Projects and Services and Equipment Acquisitions - OISM-ACF-AT-93-3
    • Issuance Date: January 3, 1993
    • Clarifies state responsibilities for monitoring and approving Automated Data Processing (ADP) acquisitions which fall below the APD prior approval thresholds.
  • Open and Free Competition for Procurements - ACF-AT-92-05
    • Issuance Date: January 16, 1992
    • Guidance on contract terms used to ensure free and open competition, vendor performance, and that systems are procured in the most cost effective way.

Information Memoranda (IM)

  • Data Breaches- Detection and Response - ACYF-CB-IM-15-04
    • Issuance Date: July 1, 2015
    • Key management practices state and tribal title IV-E agencies may consider when developing plans to detect or respond to data breaches
  • Tribal Procurement for Data Systems - ACYF-CB-IM-14-01
    • Issuance Date: July 1, 2015
    • Tribal title IV-E agency guidance on child welfare data collection systems to support program management and federal reporting
  • Exemption from Advance Planning Document (APD) Prior Approval - ACYF-CB-IM-13-01
    • Issuance Date: April 22, 2013
    • Using the optional tool, Acquisition Checklist, in the APD to provide assurance that acquisition of automated data processing equipment and/or services comply with relevant State, Tribal, and Federal policies
  • Sharing Federal and State Parent Locator Services with Child Welfare Agencies - ACYF-CB-IM-12-06
    • Issuance Date: August 1, 2012
    • Information on child support agencies’ authority to share Federal and State Parent Locator and other case information with state child welfare agencies
  • Cost Allocation for Information Systems that Benefit Multiple Programs, such as Child Welfare, Medicaid, SNAP - ACF-CMS-FNS IM-11-18
    • Issuance Date: November 18, 2010
    • Allocating costs to benefiting programs for shared information technology projects support programs administered by Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), and Food and Nutrition Services (FNS)
  • Procurement and Federal Contract Provisions - ACYF-CB-IM-11-04
    • Issuance Date: July 6, 2011
    • Description of contractual terms and conditions and their potential impact on Information Technology (IT) equipment and services procurements by states and tribes.
  • Tribal Guidance — Starting a IV-E Program - ACYF-CB-IM-09-02
    • Issuance Date: July 10, 2009
    • Information to tribes considering operating a title IV-E program about the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Public Law (P.L.) 110-351).
  • Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) Software - ACF-CMS-FNS IM-05-04
    • Issuance Date: May 2, 2005
    • Joint guidance from ACF, CMS, and FNS regarding the use of COTS software within automated human services information systems to meet federal regulatory requirements.

Program Instructions (PI)

  • Extensions of Medicaid Eligibility to Former Foster Care Young Adults - ACYF-CB-PI-15-05
    • Issuance Date: June 3, 2015
    • Information on support from state and tribal child welfare information systems for the extension of Medicaid eligible young adults formerly in foster care and under age 26.
  • Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) Waiver - ACF-OA-PI-13-01
    • Issuance Date: June 11, 2013
    • Information about the requirements for the use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software applications by title IV-E agencies, including purchased, leased, and hosted proprietary software products and software-as-a-service applications.
  • Changes to APD Process - ACYF-CB-PI-11-07
    • Issuance Date: July 5, 2011
    • Information to States and Tribes regarding changes to the regulations at 45 CFR Part 95 related to the APD process used to obtain approval of Federal financial participation (FFP) for acquiring automated data processing equipment and services.
  • Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act impact on information systems - ACYF-CB-PI-11-01
    • Issuance Date: January 7, 2011
    • Guidance to help Title IV-E agencies interpret the impact of changes to the Title IV-E foster care eligibility re-determination policy in a child welfare information system environment and the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections) (Public Law (P.L.) 110-351).
  • Conducting Pilots in Information Systems - ACYF-CB-PI-10-05
    • Issuance Date: April 8, 2010
    • Guidelines for conducting pilots in a child welfare information system environment.
  • National Youth in Transition Database - ACYF-CB-PI-10-04
    • Issuance Date: April 2, 2010
    • Instruction on National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) reporting in a child welfare information system environment.
  • Tribal Guidance- Claiming title IV-B and/or title IV-E FFP - ACYF-CB-PI-09-11
    • Issuance Date: September 17, 2009
    • Guidance on the APD regulations that Tribes (like States) must comply with to claim title IV-B and/or title IV-E FFP for child welfare information technology projects, equipment, and services.
  • Information System Policy Clarifications - ACYF-CB-PI-07-10
    • Issuance Date: May 24, 2007
    • Guidance regarding the acquisition and implementation of child welfare information system projects.
  • Operational Cost Allocation - ACYF-CB-PI-01-05
    • Issuance Date: April 16, 2001
    • Guidance on cost allocation for operational child welfare information systems.
  • Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 - ACYF-CB-PI-98-02
    • Issuance Date: January 8, 1998
    • Guidance on Public Law 105-89, The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997.


  • 45 CFR Part 95 Visit disclaimer page - This part of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) provides information about the APD process by which states obtain approval for FFP in the cost of acquiring automated data-processing equipment and services.
  • 45 CFR Part 95 Subpart F Visit disclaimer page — This subpart of 45 CFR Part 95 describes the conditions under which the Department of Health and Human Services will approve FFP at the applicable rates for the costs of automated data processing incurred under an approved state plan for titles IV-B, IV-D, IV-E, XIX, or XXI of the Social Security Act.
  • 45 CFR Part 75 Visit disclaimer page - This part of the CFR establishes uniform administrative rules for federal grants, cooperative agreements, and sub-awards to states, localities, and tribes.


Technical Bulletins (TB)

Tribal Consultation - This page provides a summary of a formal DSS consultation process on child welfare information systems.

Other Documents - This page provides information on cost-allocation principles and additional guidance from the Children’s Bureau and other federal agencies related to information systems.

Historical Information

This page provides historical information for reference or research purposes only. It includes content about the now obsolete Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS) and Tribal Automated Child Welfare Information System (TACWIS) regulations and other obsolete information.

Last Reviewed Date: